A SOCIAL media campaign encouraging people to #DotheAethel is gathering pace, attracting its first celebrity, an award-winning author and reaching across the world as we prepare to welcome our brand new Aethelflaed statue home to Tamworth next week.
Celebrity TV chef Rosemary Shrager joined the fun by taking a break from a busy day at the Ely Food and Drink Festival to #DotheAethel, making her the first celebrity to get involved in the campaign to raise awareness of the Anglo-Saxon warrior queen who died in Tamworth 1,100 years ago this June.
#DotheAethel has also been joined by award-winning historian and author Annie Whitehead, who is playing her own part in raising the profile of Aethelflaed with her novel ‘To Be a Queen’ uncovering the ‘true story’ of the Lady of the Mercians.
The word has also started spreading further afield reaching Edinburgh Castle, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and even Fremantle in Western Australia.
Other people who have shared their #DotheAethel this week include the town crier of Gloucester, where Aethelflaed was taken to be buried alongside her husband, Aethelred, following her death in Tamworth, Girl Guides, Brownies and Rainbows, store manager and staff at B&Q Tamworth, local singer Andy B Goode, Tamworth Brewing Company, Tamworth’s Guild of Town Guides and a winning quiz team at Tamworth Library.
A number of events are taking place in Tamworth this year to mark the 1,100th anniversary of the death of Aethelflaed, including the creation of a huge new six-metre sculpture, affectionately named ‘Our Aethel’ which is due to be installed on a roundabout outside Tamworth Railway Station on Sunday, May 20.
The #DotheAethel campaign has been launched by Tamworth Borough Council to mark the anniversary and in honour of the statue’s homecoming.
It involves simply taking a picture of yourself, or with your friends, replicating the pose of the impressive steel statue and sharing it on social media @VisitTamworth with the hashtag #DotheAethel. You can even help keep it going by nominating your friends to get involved too.
The campaign got off to a great start during a brief Anglo-Saxon interlude at this year’s St George’s Day celebrations in Tamworth Castle Grounds on Saturday, April 21, where our very own Aethelflaed led thousands of people in a mass #DotheAethel.
Since then it has received thousands of shares and views across social media with a variety of people, businesses and organisations taking part, including the Tamworth Herald, Ankerside Shopping Centre, John Lewis Tamworth, Namco Funscape, Tamworth Community Together CIC, Tamworth Tool Box, Tamworth Castle, Tamworth Borough Council’s Street Scene team, Tamworth Brewing Company and many more.
The very first #DotheAethel picture that has been used to demonstrate the pose is of artist and sculptor Luke Perry with ‘Our Aethel’ in the making.
Luke is currently putting the finishing touches to the statue after more than a year of back-breaking work to literally hand-sculpt the town’s new work of art.
Stunning pictures revealed last week showed the sculpture being submerged in the UK’s widest galvanizing bath at Joseph Ash Galvanizing in Telford and she has now returned to Luke’s workshop in Cradley Heath for finishing touches before coming to rest in her new home on the Offa Drive/Saxon Drive roundabout outside Tamworth Railway Station.
The ‘Roundabout Art’ project is one element of the Arts in Unusual Spaces initiative, funded by Arts Council England, which will see art in all its forms popping up in a variety of locations across the borough.
The sculpture is being funded by Arts Council England and Tamworth Gateways Project – a partnership between Staffordshire County Council and Tamworth Borough Council.
Andrew Barratt, Chief Operating Officer at Tamworth Borough Council, said: “Aethelflaed played such an important part in the history, of not only Tamworth as a seat of royal power in the ancient kingdom of Mercia, but in the making of England as we know it today. However there are many people out there who are still unaware of Aethelflaed as anything more than the daughter of King Alfred the Great, and we are seeking to change that.
“The 1,100th anniversary of her death in Tamworth is a great opportunity to do that and there are many events taking place to mark the occasion, including the unveiling of the new statue. Aethelflaed was chosen as the subject for the sculpture by Tamworth people who said they were proud of and wanted to celebrate the town’s rich Anglo-Saxon heritage. It’s great that our #DotheAethel campaign is making an impact. Of course it’s a bit of fun, but its real purpose is to raise awareness of the true legend that is Aethelflaed.”
Daughter of King Alfred the Great, Aethelflaed (also known by the Victorian spelling of Ethelfleda) is a key figure in the history and making of England. She ruled Mercia with her husband (also known as Ethelred) and together they led the battle to defend the ancient kingdom against Viking invaders.
This involved a major programme of building and fortification, creating defensive and strategic burhs (fortified towns) throughout Mercia, including Tamworth, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Mercia, where she spent much of her time in later life.
After her husband’s death in 911, Aethelflaed became the sole ruler of Mercia and continued her campaign to further defend and expand her kingdom. She was a formidable warrior and was thought of as ‘queen’ by many of her subjects. She leaves a legacy as one of the most powerful female rulers of the time.
For more information about the programme of events and full instructions on how to #DotheAethel, please visit www.aethelflaed.co.uk.